George Reid has “A Note about Easter” at the Adventist Review.
My letter to the editor in response:
George Reid’s commentary, “A Note about Easter,” overlooks some facts. First, for much of the Christian world, the day is not called “Easter,” but Pascua (Spanish), Pasqua (Italian), Pâques (French), Páscoa (Portuguese), Pasen (Dutch), Pascha (Greek), Pascha (Russian), etc. All of these are derived from the Hebrew, Pesach–Passover. What we call “Easter” is simply the Christian celebration of Passover–and that has indeed been observed by Christians since the time of the apostles, who proclaimed that “Christ our passover is sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7). The question at Nicea was when Christians should celebrate Passover. Anti-Judaism was on the rise, and they didn’t want to be dependent upon Jews in determining the date. The decision was neither arbitrary nor a matter of convenience–it was to base the calculation on the Biblical formula of being the first full moon after the Spring Equinox, but moving the celebration to the first Sunday following. Both Eastern and Western Christians use this formula, but the Orthodox church uses the Julian calendar to calculate the timing of the full moon. The historic Christian liturgy for celebrating what is called “the Paschal Mystery,” used by Orthodox and Catholic churches, Anglicans, Lutherans, and others, reaches its climax in a long vigil on Saturday night, with a service of readings which recalls God’s mighty acts of deliverance in salvation history, including the Creation, the flood, the Exodus, the crossing of the Red Sea, the return from exile, and the promise of the redeemer, culminating in the good news of the resurrection, which is then celebrated in both baptism and the Lord’s Supper. This is what the Christian celebration of the Pasch has involved since the earliest days. Before we castigate other Christians, it might be best to learn what they actually do, and why. We might be surprised.